23 Acres of Historic Massacre Marsh Protected (NH)

Rye, New Hampshire, 11/19/04: The people of Rye will soon be enjoying a new public open space, thanks in large part to a $1.484 million federal grant. The Town of Rye and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the acquisition today of over 23 acres of tidal marsh and upland forest, preventing its development into 5 potential home sites.

The property, which lies on Wallis Road, across Route 1A from Wallis Sands Beach State Park, was purchased by the Town to protect coastal habitat, provide public walking trails and protect one of the last and largest properties left on the estuary. The town matched the federal award by acquiring an additional $1.48 million worth of conservation land in the area. The additional land was acquired with approximately $1.1 million from the $5 million land bond the town passed in 2003 and the remainder was donated in the form of a conservation easement to the town.

The federal grant for the project was allocated through the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP). Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), CELCP provides matching grants to state and local government for the conservation of key lands along the country’s coastline and to create more public access to coastal areas.

U.S. Senator Judd Gregg secured the federal funding through his position as Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for NOAA’s CELCP program.

“This is great news for the Town of Rye. I congratulate the town for having the foresight to protect this ecologically important tract of land,” said Sen. Gregg. “This 23-acre site rich with wildlife and threatened by development is a perfect example of why Senator Hollings (D-SC) and I created this national coastal conservation program in 2001. Massacre Marsh is one of our prime coastal habitats in New Hampshire. Now, thanks to the hard work and dedication of local officials and conservation leaders, this property will be protected for future generations to enjoy.”

“It was a pleasure working with the Trust for Public Land in conserving this important buffer area for Wallis Marsh and Massacre Marsh,” said Jim Raynes, Chair, Rye Conservation Commission. “We were also pleased to receive important funding assistance from NOAA’s CELCP program, which Senator Gregg has been so instrumental in providing.”

John Scully and his wife Margorie bought the property over 50 years ago for a woodlot and the family has stewarded the property carefully ever since.

“It is the careful stewardship of John Scully and his family over the past 50 years that has allowed the community of Rye this terrific conservation opportunity,” said Sam Hodder, TPL’s Sr. Project Manager. “This is an exciting component of our program to protect natural and recreational resources in coastal NH. Both Sen. Gregg and the town of Rye have demonstrated tremendous vision and commitment in their efforts to protect natural resources in this part of the state.”

The property’s protection was supported by the Seacoast Land Trust, which first identified the land as a conservation priority as part of a larger initiative to map threatened lands in the Seacoast Region.

“We are glad that our partnership with the Town of Rye and the Trust for Public Land was a fruitful one. The funds that Rye has set aside to conserve sensitive lands will now be able to go even further thanks to the funding made available through the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program and Senator Gregg’s leadership,” said Danna Truslow, Executive Director of Seacoast Land Trust. “The protection of this upland area further increases the value of the conserved and restored saltmarsh that surround it. We are also pleased that through the sale of this property, the Scully family has made this beautiful land available for all to enjoy.”

The 23-acre site includes 15.67 acres of forested upland with trails, rock walls and wild flowers, and 7.42 acres of wetland including frontage on Parson’s Creek just before it empties into the ocean at Concord Point, and directly adjacent to nearly 60 acres of existing Town conservation land. Located in one of the most rapidly growing residential areas of New Hampshire, Massacre Marsh, and neighboring Washington Marsh, has been a high priority for Rye’s conservation efforts in recent years, both for land acquisition and wetlands restoration. This acquisition is a key addition to that ongoing investment in the biological, recreational and scenic value of Rye’s coastal area.

The marsh has an enduring history as the site of a massacre of settlers during King Phillips War in 1691. A small burial ground with several old gravestones, located down the road from the subject property, serve as historical markers of the incident.

Today, Massacre Marsh is relatively undisturbed and the protection of this property in a rapidly growing region of the state will help to preserve not only important ecological habitat, but also recreation opportunities, and scenic views from nearby travel routes.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states, including nearly 60,000 acres in New Hampshire. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact TPL’s Concord office at (603) 224-0103 or visit www.tpl.org/newhampshire.